The commentary of the cover

A Friend of God by Fleur Nabert-Valjavec

Maurice Denis is a friendly presence on our covers. “Friend,” one might say, in the monastic sense: someone who, without leaving their ordinary life, unites their heart and soul to a particular community of prayer. And if Magnificat often draws upon Denis’ colors and lights, it is because he is truly a “friend” of heaven. In figures all the more evocative for their hazy detail, his clear eye offers us a glimpse of something of the truth of the Gospel. The mystery of God is embodied in his brushwork, not amid great fanfare, but with an acuity and a capacity to bring forth revelation that makes the viewer want to go down on their knees and pray with childlike simplicity. And so it is with this Visitation and its power of annunciation. Against the backdrop of a golden sea, a sweet young woman in blue stands at the path that leads at once to a joyful announcement to her beloved cousin and to Golgotha with its blood and tears. Should we need further persuasion, the red sun is firmly planted over the sea, upright like the wood of the cross, while at its foot flow the tears of the holy women….

And, since our lives are inseparable from that of the Savior, Denis has drawn inspiration from a scene from his own life. This is the view from his house in Perros-Guirec, Brittany, to which he gave the lovely name “Silencio.” This expectant young woman is his own wife, Marthe, pregnant during the summer of 1911. She would soon know the sorrow of losing her child through miscarriage. In the background, in a red-robed figure evoking the humble reserve of Saint Joseph before the mystery he is to be the guardian of, we find Maurice Denis himself, bearing the staff of his mission. A just and righteous man (cf. Mt 1:19), he mounts the path of his earthly pilgrimage as husband, father, and painter. In these three vocations, it is his entire life that he offers up to the God he loves. 

 Visitation at Sunset (1911), Maurice Denis (1870–1943), Private collection © Catalogue raisonné Maurice Denis